By Amber Ketchum, RD, Shane Diet, Weight-Loss & Fitness Resorts – San Antonio, TX
These days it seems we are constantly bombarded with new ideas on how we should be eating to lose weight as fast as possible. Usually fad diets promote rapid weight loss and involve over-restricting certain foods and eating large amounts of other foods. It’s important to remember we need an overall balance of the right foods in the right amounts to get all of the nutrients our body needs. Depriving the body of key nutrients can be very harmful in the long run. Keep in mind that like most things in life, if a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The best way to lose weight and become healthier is to eat a well-balanced diet, along with regular physical activity.
Here are some examples of four popular fad diets that may sound like a good idea for shedding those extra pounds, but are really not good for your body and may even be harmful over time.
1. Baby Food Diet
Main principle: Replace two meals and all snacks each day with about 14 jars of baby food, and eat an adult-sized dinner. The idea is to reduce calorie intake during the day to jumpstart weight loss.
Why it’s not a good idea: Babies and adults have different nutritional needs, especially in terms of calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Eating baby food for most meals will not meet the needs of an adult, nor has this diet been proven sustainable, as most adults can only eat baby food for a certain amount of time before tiring of it.
2. The 5-Bite Diet
Main principle: Skip breakfast and eat only five bites of any food of your choice for lunch and dinner. No snacks. The idea is to train your body to be satisfied on fewer calories.
Why it’s not a good idea: This promotes a very low-calorie diet, likely below the nutritional needs for the average adult. This promotes weight loss from water and lean stores (muscle), not from fat. Also, 10 bites of food each day is likely not anywhere near enough to get enough nutrition for the body each day. Even the creator of this diet recommends taking a multivitamin and including protein each day to address this issue. Healthy eating plans allow you to get enough nutrition through food.
3. Feeding Tube Diet
Main principle: Participants pay to have a feeding tube inserted through their nose and into the stomach, through which they are fed only 800 calories per day and monitored daily for complications. The tube is worn for 10 days at a time and is heavily promoted for use of brides-to-be.
Why it’s not a good idea: 800 calories through a feeding tube isn’t metabolically different than eating 800 calories of food. That amount of calories is also very low and can be considered unsafe, especially with long-term use. There are also many side effects to using feeding tubes, including discomfort, infection, dizziness, headache, dehydration, and more. Feeding tubes are meant for use in hospitals for patients who cannot eat food orally and not designed for this type of use.
4. The 8-Hour Diet
Main principle: Eat whatever you want for eight hours each day then stop eating for the next 16 hours. The idea is that extended periods of fasting on a regular basis will promote weight loss.
Why it’s not a good idea: Putting your body in a fasting state 16 hours each day puts the body in a state of stress, which may actually increase fat retention. Weight loss tends to be from water, meaning it will likely come right back. Also, what you eat is so important, and eating poor food choices instead of healthful ones during those eight hours will not have beneficial health impacts on the body and may cause harm long term.